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August 23, 2011


In a few weeks our Hebrew school year will begin and I find that I am ridiculously excited about teaching the kids a unit on how Torah scrolls are made: written by hand, using quill and ink, on parchment. We're going to attempt to write our own Hebrew letters using turkey quills on parchment-style paper; I expect the results will be as imperfect as one might imagine, but I'm hoping the embodied experience of trying to shape the letters using a feather and a bottle of ink will give the kids appreciation for the scroll from which they will eventually learn to read.

I'm glad to have the digital world, with all of its blessings, but I would hate to lose connection with the tangible altogether.

Beth, I can smell that ink and hear the shloop of the roller on ink.... love that sound. Thanks for this.

Ah, Beth! It's as if you were speaking for me, word for word! I have these thoughts so often even as more and more of my printmaking work has become digital, even photographs. I too miss the hands on printing, which is why I often do still print traditionally on top of digital, and hopefully will be doing again this fall as I've just signed myself up into the print studio again.

You speak of the younger generation - yes, one of our daughters is very much into reviving the older arts and crafts, from knitting, spinning, sewing, refinishing antiques, learning blacksmithing and metalwork, and the kitchen arts of food foraging, preserving.... I'm quite amazed and pleased to see this.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you might make with those inks - I can just smell them - and it's made me excited and looking forward to September!

Yep, me too, all of that.

Ah, those old cans of printing inks! I've thrown out so many when the inks had turned to hard, gritty, unsalvageable stuff because I'd forgotten to put a layer of copperplate oil over the waxpaper skin to stop the inks drying up.

The experience you describe with your mother--digging the clay out of the streambed and clearing the pebbles--what a wonderful memory.

Food is definitely the place where this remains alive for me. I was thinking yesterday that my daughter will learn to take a chicken from hatchling to butchering to stock on the stove. She doesn't ever have to do any of it in her own adult life, but she will know how!

I've always been a thingmaker, I make jewelry and so does my mother. My sister is an artist, painter and silk screener. The three of us are all fascinated by process and techniques. My mother also sews beautifully and made us costumes and doll clothes. When we were small she and my grandmother made our clothes, beautiful smocked dresses, suits and poodle skirts.
When I would do a crafts fair it surprised me how, if I was doing anything, just hammering on a piece of metal, people would flock to see it. Took me a while to understand how they just didn't know how things were made.
I've always found hands amazing.

This sentence of yours inspired a whole blog post of mine: "Can we appreciate creation if we don't know what it is to be a creator?"

My post is here: http://liberationtheologylutheran.blogspot.com/2011/08/god-of-rough-drafts.html

Thanks for the inspiration!

I think everything you say about tactility applies not just to creative acts but also to the process of cleaning things up. After a long stint of checking discussion forums for my online classes, for instance, it always feels like a relief to do the dishes, take out the trash, or even clean up the inevitable "messes" that living with a houseful of animals entails.

There's a simple immediacy in clean-up chores--something dirty is now clean--even though you know you'll have to do it all again soon enough. For a moment, right now, you SEE the work of your hands.

Maybe in another lifetime, I was a contented farmer, or zookeeper, or milkmaid.

yes! this is why I spend so much time in the kitchen, although I also did that in France when I wasn't wired at work all day. But it is so therapeutic to bake cakes and bread, back to baking basics and all the better for it!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.